Students march to protest at proposal to reintroduce college fees.

Eight thousand students march to Leinster House to protest at reintroduction of college fees. The students from throughout Ireland were joined in their protest by a number of opposition TDs.

Student leaders say today's protest has rubbished any claims that these people are an apathetic lot.

Students say that the reintroduction of fees will result in many people dropping out of college as they struggle to meet the cost.

Opposition leaders from Fine Gael and Labour say that many of those protesting would not be in college if fees had not been abolished in the first place. Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny addressed the protest saying that the government were against placing a €10,000 levy on the parents of every student who attends a third level college in the country.

The protesters denied claims that most of them come from middle class families who can afford to pay college fees. They argue that the reintroduction of fees will result in students living in substandard accommodation and forced to work up to twenty hours a week to make ends meet. Colm Jordan of the Union of Students of Ireland says that the protesters are the future tax payers.

After the rally, a group of around a hundred students staged a sit-down protest outside Leinster House. These protesters were physically removed by Gardaí so that the street could be reopened to traffic.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 5 February 2003. The reporter is Eileen Whelan.